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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  May 1, 2010 12:00pm-1:30pm EDT

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the day the earth stood still, the remake. . . to commit mass genocide. kill every man, woman and child on the planet because the aliens want to save the earth.
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there is even a no lock's are seen in the remake of the day the earth stood still where animals are taken two by two into the space ships which look like globes which implies the earth is a livg guy at so that once the full obliteration occurs then the animals can be brought back in paradise can again exist. there won't be anybody here to appreciate paradise. all those dinosaurs that lived here for millions of years and when you go through chicago there is that incredible skeleton of the huge dinosaur and you go while. went that dinosaur was in the flesh, might have said there is dinner but no one was saying that is make a difference in because they didn't have capacity of cubans to do that.
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that is a classic example of a list hollywood promoting an anti human exceptional ism and humans are the bad guys philosophy and cultural belief on young people. the movie that happening is another example. in that movie the plants rebel against humankind and issue pheromones that cause us to commit mass suicide. there's one scene that i almost stood up in the theater -- i saw it for professional reasons -- i keep hoping -- the $0.06 was such a good movie. i keep hoping. the people running away from this mass suicide run by a billboard in which it says because you deserved it. that was not even subtle. there is a huge cultural push among the empty headed ties in
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hollywood to think being against human beings is good box office and good culture and based on the day the earth stood still it is not good box office and certainly not good culture but that is a real problem. thank you very much. [applause] >> wesley smith is senior fellow at the discovery institute and author of fort exit. for more information visit >> sunday on booktv's index television analyst and columnist and three time presidential candidate pat buchanan on conservative ideology and today's political climate. he will take your calls, e-mails and tweets and noon eastern on
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c-span2. next from the 2010 natural black writers conference two panel discussions. the first panel on how current events are reflected in the writings of african-americans. the university of new york in new york city hosts the hour an. >> we have an interesting subject today, in the black community, i can say it is ever increasing importance and the role is changing quite a bit. there will be a lot more of it. what is going on in the political sphere recently. we will talk about black political satire, political satire in black literature. the etymology of the term satire
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begins with the latin term that for which means a mix. satire is a mix of which. with and irony and tumor used to criticize persons particularly figures of power and authority, institutions, and so on. the satirist feels needs to be critiqued and held up in bold relief so accesses and hypocrisy and foolish pretension and downright evil can be laid bare for the public to see. political satire is present in african-american life fuelled by collateral and exits and seas and absurdities and a myriad of oppressions that we have experienced in our sojourn upon the shore. informally it has taken the form
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of signifying wilson playing the fool. the last is the story of the enslaved african american saying to the and slaver master, you look noble just like that line over there and the masters says that is not a lion. that is a jackass. oh. you sure do look like him. that is in formal. that is going on right now somewhere. so deeply a part of our lives. and away we engage our reality. african-american political satire can be seen as early as the writings of charles chesnutt in the nineteenth century. the first completely satirical novel written by and about african-americans is george either's 1931 novel black no
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more which attacks racism by imagining an america without blacks. since then we have seen a number of works of black political satire that raised political and social consciousness. tickle our fine literary talent and afforded us quite a few laughs as well. authors and works like langston hughes waving white folks, moses man of the mountain, john oliver's the petunia all the way of to paul bailey's the white boy shuffle, negrophobia and preeminently ishmael reed's mumbo jumbo in japanese by spring. arguably the most important works of african-american
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political satire. we have a distinguished panel of journalists and political commentators and we are going to talk about black political satire. the elements of black political satire. its challenges and possibility, major practitioners. we look to a lively and interesting conversation and i am going to introduce our panelists, as we say, those on the way. here is one who has arrived. first i would like to introduce her boy to my left. herbal is an award winning
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author and journalist who has published 17 books and countless articles for national magazines and newspapers. is books include odyssey of black men in america. he has co edited the black scholars journal and has won the american book award for nonfiction. in 1999, won three first-place awards from the new york association of black journalists for articles published on the news. he has written black panthers for beginners, autobiography of a people. three centuries of african-american history told by those who lived it. his most recent book, life and times of sugar robinson. what is the most recent one?
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[inaudible] >> is it ballwin's hollow? >> that is the most recent one. >> i was -- i wish i was as prolific as you. he is the managing director of the black world. he is one of new york's treasury's. we treasure him especially, herb boyd. [applause] next is thomas bradshaw. according to the new york times his work is, quote, likely to leave you speechless. a professor of play writing thomas bradshaw has been named one of the top ten playwrights to watch by time out new york and the best provocative playwright in 2007. if you call provocative by the village voice he must be
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something. his plays include the bereaved, southern promises, strom thurmond is not a racist. he is working on commissions for the goodman thomas bradshaw. [applause] major owens is a politician and prominent member of i hope i have this right, democratic socialism in america. that is okay? not actors. democratic socialists have all my respect. we all know him as the representative of the house of representatives from brooklyn who replaced shirley chisholm. he has been a very important
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voice. representation for us in the united states congress. he has been a member of the progressive caucus in addition to the black congressional caucus. he is an author and such a major figure that the popular television the west wing had a character that is almost certainly based on major owens, mark richardson. something you may not know is he is nicknamed the wrapping raff because he writes wrap and his rap songs are often political and liberal in nature. he is an important writer and thinker in black political satire and nonfiction and part of the public administration, rep major owens.
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[applause] we hope to have at 11 if he is able washington. i want to approach from whatever direction you like beginning with you. >> let me start from misdirection or in direction. let me say how pleased i am to be here for the tenth annual black writers conference. i have been at each and every one of them in one capacity or another. ordinarily i am out there with you reporting panel to panel and over the years there have been
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some outstanding remarkable writers we have gathered here. let me give you my rap on satire. won't do that. it was early in the morning in the middle of the night two dead boy's got up to fight and said one was blind and one could see. they used their little brother for the referee. back-to-back they faced each other. they chose their weapons and shot the brother. a dead policeman heard the noise and got up and shot the two dead boys. a lot of satire or definitions of satire is wrapped up in that little bit. in direction, irony, those big 57 words make it sound like this is one of those graduates panels. even talking about satire which is something we don't talk about that much.
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when you are faced with a situation like this you are on a panel to talk about satire i haven't written any satire although some of my readers may see it as that. hadn't intend it to be that way. my stuff is usually straight ahead, fact oriented although the last time i was here i did a thing in creative nonfiction which is where you can blur those lines between fact and fiction. alex haley had a concept called faction when he was doing that remarkable book that all of you have read. you probably saw the monumental television series based on routes or routes depending on what part of the country in come from. one of the things about satire in doing my research on it, i
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stumbled -- we talked about this, a remarkable piece here, i wish we could have in here. darrell dickson carr. what a fascinating interview. i went on line and found this. you can do the same. if we don't cover this topic sufficiently, i would suggest you check out this particular article. he is an expert on this and i learned so much from him. one of the things i learned is i have been reading satire all these years and didn't know it. one of the things that struck me about darrell's discussion, we have all these men up here, where are the women? don't women deal with satire? a lot of them just live in it. if you want to go back in time
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and darrell does mention her stern. what was the time he talked moses on the mountain? their eyes are watching god in terms of relationship between -- you may find some aspect, j.d. crawford and some aspects of irony verbally as opposed to in a physical way. there must be some women out there who have been dealing with satire. i went through my library and couldn't find one -- hopkins in her book comes pretty close to some things. certainly i mentioned tony's name, if you are defining satire as being with, tumor, some form
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of sarcasm and cynicism, being ironic and that is probably the key word, being ironic, how ironic it is and i can't think of a more ironic writer than ishmael reed. if you pick his stuff up, all of his books have an aspect of some element of irony and which and humor. ralph ellison's invisible man, what i am suggesting to you is just about all of the writers, we talked about this earlier, most writers at one time or another in their career have dabbled or had one of their books or essays or something like that that had elements of satire. invisible man's satire can go in different directions. from tragic to, a to sci-fi to speculates to fiction to
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fantasy, beyond the literary genre. in living color or saturday night live or mad magazine. all these things, some aspects of satire involved. we talk about douglas turner ward, that is where you find it happening in the theater. many times we talk about george wolfe, the colored museum. the ridicule and to stab to
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change things. a number of these driving concerns when you talk about satire. i was looking at erasure, a more recent book that deals with that. there is a very humorous thing in which he lampoons or parities or does a signifying job or the movie precious. i recommend that to you. very fine writer who gives this notion of satire, a current disposition or reflection. across the years, you have a number of writers, lanky hughes -- langston hughes, jesse
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fawcett, hall of these riders had some elements of satire particularly about passing which is a vibrant theme when you look at the literature of the harlem renaissance. that popped up all the time. johnson's book the autobiography of an ex colored man. the title itself. the life and legend of mr. nader. these begin to have folklore. cecil brown does a wonderful job and is connected with the opening with the old jack s. thing off of a plantation. i close with this. cecil brown talks about a little small man. back in plantation times all of the plantation owners would take their most powerful black men and put them up against each other usually at the festivals and fairs to see who had baddest
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and word on the block. he was put up to go against goliath. he stood 6 ft. 8, weighed about 300 lbs. and when he came out he grabs a sledgehammer and threw it about a mile in the air and when it landed it dug a hole about 12 feet deep. he was just showing off his muscular power and prowess. i am in trouble. i am going to beat this fellow. he came out, had his cape on and asked for his gloves and everything. he put one glove on and kept the other one in his hand. he walked over to the wagon. he took one of the gloves and
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hit upside the head. goliath saw that and took off down the road. anybody who slaps ms. aunt is a bad you know what i am saying. [talking over each other] >> i find the word -- i find the word satire to be a difficult one to define. i feel like there's a difference between the way we talk about and think about satire in our
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popular me and what it actually is. satire is often used to describe broad comedy and pure mockery and things that are purely sarcastic in tone, when i think satire actually has to have very serious underpinnings and actually needs to be an almost scathing portrayal in order to really be defined as a satire. i am a playwright so i am going to talk about satire in theater. i can to think of many black playwrights who i would describe
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as satirists. george wolfe obviously. the colored museum is probably the greatest and well-known example we have in a modern context. i was thinking about a mere baraka's early plays. they certainly have satirical elements. satire has to be in opposition to something. most of the work being done by african-american playwrights is very reverential. most of the work in the theater
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is focused on counteracting popular perceptions of blacks in more popular forms of media, a.k.a. people shooting each other in the face or smoking crack, mothers who don't take care of their children, in the theater, much of the work we see today is attempting to do something similar to the cosby show. forcefully rejecting the images we see in our more popular media, meaning movies. i say that 90% of the population does not attend theater but most people go to the movies at one
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point or another. i think this reverence is actually dangerous. because if -- because if you just -- present a relentlessly positive point of view, than that in a sense become they lie because everybody knows that there is something that is being hidden. and i think satire at its best is hypertruthful in a way. it gets at in essence of truth that is truer than reality
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itself. so i think satire is essential and certainly needs to be more plentiful in the theater. i will talk more about this. >> thank you. >> let me begin by thanking you to join me up here. many of you are writers. i have a lot of unfinished work but i haven't published. a couple of novels, nonfiction,
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unfinished stuff. on the one hand, what we're talking about today is my wrap points. the broadest definition, i like the scathing portrayal. i like to think of the poems of outrage in terms of the satire. i am way ahead of most of you guys. i put my wrapped in the congressional record and they published tens of thousands of congressional record copies every day. i am the most widely read -- [laughter] -- i am the most widely read. i put 100 wraps in the congressional record over the years. i always wanted to be a writer.
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i won't go into that story. i always wanted to be a writer. i am trying to get these unfinished works moving. it is not by chance that being in congress and being frustrated so many things were happening that drove my blood pressure up and i had no outlet. a lot of that time the rap guys began to be popular and i was one of the few guys in the establishment ready to defend the rap guys. it is poetry. they talk about women, is not productive poetry. it is not good poetry. is in harmony with shakespeare and those other guys throughout history. they are nothing new in terms of
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getting into being male chauvinist. it is not new but the elements of poetry is what i want to encourage. i went to a program with young guys doing rap as the guest speaker as a congressman. long associated with this black history club. they heard i had done some raps. they asked me to do some in the congressional record. so i recited a couple of my wraps and they listened patiently. after a while they said to me thank you. let's have a hand for the a head wrap. at least i have a title. that doesn't quite make the grade with them. my first grade frustration that i expressed in out rage with the
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congressional record following a meeting in the capital, the congressional black caucus joining us in discussion of an important child care bill. we didn't clear that with our leaders. one of them didn't like that. it was a breakfast meeting. it was an affront. we were upset about that. a lot of other guys were steaming about it. this is the day i will put my first wrapped in the congressional record. march 22nd, 1990. let the mothers lead the fight. dangerous dumbbells made a mess on the right.
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rolling out of slight. it is out of the house. rats are ruining the world. it goes on. that is a bit of a test case. i put him in writing and submitted the statement for the congressional record and i submitted them and this is not printable. i won't do this. i got very angry about savings and loans. you think the banking mess is bad? the worst thing about the banking mess that took us over in terms of destroying the economy is they had done it before on a smaller scale.
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the savings and loans scandal was the same kind of thing where we had to bail out the banks. they had a request of $700 billion. what they did in savings and loans was the first installment with seventy billion dollars and as much as they need so they don't have to come back to congress and nobody knows how much these so-called resolution trust club corp. has been because you can't find out. it was the same pattern as the savings and loans associations. we were bailing them out at the same time. i was very frustrated. so at the same time they were predicting cuts.
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welfare, food stamps, all the things our folks do medicaid. i was a angry about that and another entry i put in the congressional record, a meeting they were having at the white house to talk about the cuts and who they want to cut. at the big white d.c. mansion there is a meeting of the mob. the question is which beggars will they robbed? we will make a deal and the poor have no appeal. which housing for the homeless will it hit? school lunches cut to the pitt because of the meeting of the mob. as it went on, getting all this money, you got to -- you must comprehend their deregulated
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ways. don't just stand there. they want come around. they take every cent. no nice gentleman will they jail. all come up here under. lincoln p. crystal cadillac or rolls-royce, the very best. they are all having fun. i won't bore you -- i wrote about savings and loans. when mandela came speaking before a joint session of congress one of the nazis from california is a real right wing as toby said why are we in fighting mandela to address a joint session of congress? what is the difference between mandela and willie warden? some of you don't know who that
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was. paroled by dukakis, raped and killed some people. he is comparing mandela to willie horton? my blood pressure went up. all the members of congress where a agree. i said to hell with it. i went to the congressional record. what i said, fascists' go home. the house chambers -- let's put all nazis in bed and make hitler did. tell the headline -- more like his mama. only the black guys got that. >> thank you. i will close out a nice funny one. at the time they were trying to
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cut the school lunch program they insisted president reagan came in they wanted to cut out the school lunch program and one way he proposed was you have to have a vegetable in every lunge so they said let's declare that ketchup is a vegetable. if you have catch up you have a vegetable. that is bad enough. the next go round they didn't even talk about specifically what they were going to cut. they just said we are going to cut $2 billion out of the school lunch program. i came with this one which people find funny. they recited their lead in. put it in a magazine. they put in punctuation. i didn't have any punctuation. the nation needs of their lunge.
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this name it -- this great nation can't afford lunch program. there's a fiscal crunch. this great nation does not eat their lunch. go hungry for one night. don't eat when we could save. be brave. kids of america, nutrition is not for you. go to bed, be a soldier and played dead. they might rescue you if you some. there is a fiscal crunch. this nation needs your lunch stooge mobilize your own brown bag. the enemy deficit must be defeated. the suicide squad is needed. there is a fiscal crunch. this great nation now need your lunch. >> we have a prime example of political satire right on the ground. we thank you very much. we would like to welcome our final panelist, charles edison 11.
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you had to come from washington. charles edison is author of a political thriller tantrum. i like that title. he is a huffington post contributor and a host of the new school on serious x and radio. he is senior fellow advisor of the politics and policy at the university of denver and the institute of statistics, democracy and the internet at george washington university. charles ellison, please give us a few minutes of opening statement before our conversation begins. [applause] >> thank you for having me today. i am quite honored to have been invited to be in the presence of the congressman. remember you when i was in staff on capitol hill longtime ago and seeing you in the halls.
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congressman owens is a little modest about it but he did quite a bit in breaking the tedium and the sameness and pretentiousness that characterizes capitol hill particularly with a lot of things that you did on the house floor and reading your poems and poetry but you were making some very cogent points about the state of american politics and political discourse. it would be funny like a lot of my fellow white colleagues and staffers on capitol hill. what is he saying? i really appreciate that. i am honored -- i wouldn't downplay these wraps on the congressional record. i am honored to sit next to you
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and herb boyd, i remembered team dwg. i book art that. that was quality information and news on what was happening in the black world and the black political landscape and culturally and nationally and socially, economically. we have definitely got to catch up. >> you skipped me. >> i can get into what the lady getting here. i could get into politics and
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politics and influences that shaped me not only as a political analyst but as a commentator, as a writer, as an individual. i grew up in a family and household that had a deep appreciation for the classics. when i say the classics, they are part of that as well. i made the observation that i received as a birthday gift, received one of these digital competitors to the candle and sony reader and one thing that struck me going through this digital montage of classic writers. they were all transition and they were all white. i have read some of those works
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and don't discredit them. pride and prejudice and bram stoker's dracula and little women. i grew up with that. you too? [talking over each other] >> i noticed how there were no black writers being considered in that montage and when the free books went down a little, i tried to download invisible man which i reread many times, i only got cliff notes on invisible man. i was astounded. i appreciated it, a pleasant birthday present. i was struck by the fact that such things, an american literary classic, that is one of the books that shaped me as an
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individual. a year or so i will read it over and over again. that is one of the great not only american classics but was one of those books that set sort of a new trend in terms of it looked into black politics work issues of black political power, issues of what we deal with in terms of class division and social division and how we are -- we as a people relate to the rest of society. you mentioned george schuyler, a book that comes to mind is black empire. a lot of people don't remember that. that work of fiction, not only being a satirist but making some
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powerful observations and a black conservative made some very powerful observations. actually created this ultimate universe or world where this mastermind creates this movement and starts taking over the world and pretty powerful commentary we find in black empire, how schuyler takes elements of politics and all these various social clashes, also very deep religious and spiritual themes from african culture in fused into this very compelling piece which is an underground classic. one thing that comes to mind in black literature like ocean park, very deep sort of -- not just the novel but commentary on
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the state of modern american political discourse but also how we are trying to find our place in society. coming more from the perspective of black middle-class and upper crust. he had some interesting observations through his characters about black life and black politics, about how we interface with the rest of the world in the political landscape. i always go back -- i made a big sci-fi net. i read a lot of science fiction. one of my personal icons was samuel delaney. look at works like bebel 17, some deep, serious, intense political things in these books. obviously looking at a parallel universe or another kind of
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future but especially -- is a big read and going through it is quite a challenge. but he was waxing poetic about if we were basically in a post apocalyptic world how we would fare in certain situations and circumstances. and octavia butler with the parable series. you have some very deep political -- when i think about black literature in general is because of the history of alaska 400 plus years, a very political history, very conflicted people complex, tragic history. politics his tragedy. satire is politics.
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we have very political people and it comes in all of our literature. i got here a little late but i heard it comes out in chester himes's works. gwendolyn brooks. my title tantrum which his this gritty, dark pulp fiction sort of political thriller, lot of that was inspired in the bottom of the well. remember reading that. and the way he wanted to make some clear points about american law and american politics through these conversations with
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his main female protagonist and i would love to write a book like this. tantrum is essentially all these various characters that we have grown up with. i grew up in north philadelphia. that sort of -- storefront creatures from the creatures to that strong shrine with her child or children trying to make it to those brothers who were like uncles to me who i grew up with in logan, mort philly and the corrupt politicians that made philly what it is today to all sorts of other characters, black and white. i said it in philadelphia and took elements of inspiration from works like the invisible
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man. like sam delaney's dowry. i was inspired by some of those works and messages they were saying. that has come to a close. has black writers and black artists and black thinkers and observers of american life, what is happening in our diaspora and our world we have an obligation in our literature and observations and commentary, we have an obligation to keep it real. to talk about these things in a very candid format. that is what makes black literature so unique and sets it apart from the rest of the
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american literary canon. there is an ongoing debate with the same conversation taking place at this conference, it is very much at the core and the essence of what we call american literature or literature because there is so much in it and it is so beautiful. i am pleased and honored to be here and looking forward to having this conversation about black literature and some of the other issues surrounding it. i am looking forward to your questions as well. [applause] >> let's open up conversation with a question. we have defined black political
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satire or satire in general as which and irony and humor. unlike to talk about the specific functions of black political satire in particular. the function of black political satire. what are the targets, persons or concepts and we might get what to undertargeted? generally. >> to the congressman. >> i just want to say that let's begin with the understanding that black political satire, black literature in general, black art in general, black culture in general are vital. it is not a luxury.
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there is too big a gap between politics in the black community and culture in the black community. we cannot afford to have that kind of gap. satire at one point was a lifesaver for people who wanted to criticize their government. other things we find entertaining and funny were sometimes political. hmmm the dump the sand on the wall -- someone was picking fund aimed at a target powerful enough to cut off his head. he said with what? richard nixon sat on a wall and have a great fall. put richard nixon back together again and free america. richard nixon -- free america, put in congressional record and wait for censorship.
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it never came. why can't we use other forms of art, satire being one of them more effectively? right now in yemen they are subsidizing the number one rap artist in yemen? yemen is an arab country that blew up an american ship. al qaeda's first destructive step. they are worried about yemen going over to al qaeda and become more radical so the government is subsidizing the chief wrappers to do rap to stay away from terror. i am oversimplifying. on television they translated it. the power of culture is something we should understand. don't let them be separated.
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too much separation within the black community. we can't afford it. we are like a developing society with an overdeveloped society. we a still a developing society and we need to be able to defend ourselves and hold our own and in order to do that you need powerful political people, powerful people in culture and backing them up. inspiring the masses. we can't have one set over here writing poetry which puts down our own politicians or our own folks, white satire criticizes and shows them the way. don't just dismiss them. we can't afford to -- the people we have in power can't afford to ignore the people in the culture. you don't get the young people.
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obama understood this and appeals to certain segments of society to get the young people in every segment of society and that included a lot of guys who wouldn't be caught dead in a polling place. i saw them there. a cultural thing happened to bring them in. >> you finished. [talking over each other] >> i think it is a good question. one of the things about this is given the folly of today and what they call reality. it is so difficult. to distinguish some of the things you have in a satirical way from the reality going into the congressional record. it is hard to find a line of distinction between some of the stuff that is being said in the
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congressional record but that represents reality and that is what you are responding to. this is what we put on the record. we put this on the record too. i want to put on the record that when you look at the origin of the black writers getting together at the bakery. one person comes to mind and that is john oliver kilns. he rode very strong social realism, straight away. if you look at young blood, mississippi, we heard the thunder. he could also get into satire. have you heard of a book called the cotillion? what is the subtitle? one bull is worth half the herd.
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the purpose was not only castigating the black community because that is what he is doing, talking about the bs of bourgeois existence in america. blacks get caught into the debate turneds and what have you and he makes fun of that. the characters that he uses, the strongest characters, bent holly and -- that indicates a certain stance and in terms of politics.
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when he is coming from black nationalist perspective. he is talking about being a black nationalist and he has that privilege position and perspective to lampoon and ridicule and thomas was saying something earlier about if you are going to satire something or parity thing you have to have an assumption in terms of what is this reality that you are challenging as you are trying to redirect. so they kind of go together. otherwise the thing falls apart. ..
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>> invisible man is satire in the surrealism. depending on which chapter you read. [laughter] >> from one chapter to another, because another part of satire is that you have this idea that as a very real person out there or organization, institution that he's talking about. but ellison was clear, at least
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that's what he explained in a couple of interviews that he was not intending that to be marcus garvey. but it's hard for us not to see that. it does every other characteristic and feature of the individual seem to suggest that. so i don't know if he is being disingenuous when he was talking about every view, i didn't mean marcus garvey. he had taken so much flak coming from elements of the community that held garvey in high esteem and how dare you, you know, make fun, poke fun. even louis again to back off of his kind of depiction of marcus garvey in his book when harlem was in vogue. david said i didn't mean it like that. if he had to do it all over again he would not depict him in that manner. but he has every right i guess as a writer. you go in there and you try to bring some levity, some balance and analysis to situation. sometimes you can make your
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point very, very strongly and firmly, but by ridiculing it. and so that's another part of satire in which we look at certain books, and where and where do you enter? how do you come into the situation? where are you as a reader, where do you stand? that's why for me ishmael reed is pretty much the past master. he always talked about mark twain, you know, from a white perspective. to me, ishmael reed. give me ishmael, talking to you, baby. >> i appreciate that. what are some of the targets or what should be the targets? >> can i say something? you know, i agree with everything that you said and i also think that satire can be used -- i mean, it's really all
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about reality and satire can be used to present an alternate and extreme point of view of what reality could be. one of the things that has always interested me is just kind of like the idea of black identity, and what that is. and you take the example of obama. here we have a man who is biracial, right? but under american context would you say there is a black man. i have never been able to understand how we can look at someone who is half black and half white and say, there's a black man right there. if you're half black and half white, why can't you just say i'm a white man and then? so i wrote this play called clinton about a biracial girl from indiana who rejects her black grew. by doing that, obviously it's
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extreme and absurd portrayal, however, it opens up a different way of thinking about identity. so satire can also be used to challenge our commonly held assumptions about almost anything. and force people to question their deep-seated beliefs. >> is there a difference between lack political satire and social protest? >> first, i'd like to sort of -- one thing that sort of i'm not going to say bob may, but sort of concerns me about mixing or kind of intertwining politics in satire is folks seem, there are a lot of folks, there was a poll that was recently out about how more people learn from watching
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jon stewart daily show about politics and political process than from watching, say, something like c-span, or watching daily talk shows like nbc's hardball. and i find that disturbing that folks are using satirical vehicles as their primary source of information on the political process. for some reason that sort of strikes me as bothersome. i understand they're sort of a need for it, satire, to somehow reach out to folks, but somehow get across to them how absolutely critical it is for us to be in tune with what's happening in the world today. but that's the first point i'd like to make. but i think that, going to question as far as the targets. i mean, one, there has to be an awareness of black political satire as something fundamentally active.
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it's very active and constantly active, so it's like black satire or black the little satire and more specifically is, it's something unique in the sense that because of the very unique history that we have had it's like we have no choice in the matter but to make the satire political. since it's fundamentally active, issues of identity come up, and issues regarding our place in society with relation to other demographic, other folks or other groups. and just, you know, i think also this urge to somehow, to somehow make society a tone for what it's done to us, and a lot of that also shows up and a lot black political satire. i see that even, i see that sort of message or theme even more
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contemporary political satire. i know it's not necessary some people would debate whether not business literature, but i see that kind of coming out in sort of active rage of someone who's actually fairly well-to-do, actual commentary on black middle-class life. and disposition. definitely target groups are us, us trying to sort of make sense out of who we are in relation to everyone else. and also the other target is obviously is the predominant white society that has sort of subjugated us for so long. and so we're trying, you know, it's like, i'm sorry, the authors name, makes me want to
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holler. like marvin day. and a lot of that, a lot of screening. that's very evident in the black political satire. so in that screen it becomes very apparent like targeted audiences. but it's for different reasons, coming at it from different perspectives. >> onto the target should be, no one target should be elected officials. you elect people to represent you. they volunteer for the position. they should be able to get in the kitchen and stand the heat. and we have a problem in terms of we lost, three or four years ago, we were a much stronger black press. in addition to supporting elected officials, also criticizing in kept them on their toes. but we've lost a lot of that. the notion you can't criticize
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internally, blacks can't criticize black leaders, hispanic can't criticize hispanic leaders. it's ridiculous. we need that element in our democracy. the press, the free press, what is it. it has to be there and active so you're showing people you are being ridiculous. you're being ridiculous by this or that, and maybe they will stop being ridiculous. and will do something more serious. your state senate taken over by democrats for the first time. happens to be the democrats in the leadership primary black and hispanics. they have a clown show. we should be beating them over the head, you know, in terms of act together. they've got all the time in the world.
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obama is president now. he's not going to be president forever. this is a moment in history which will come and go. when india first became independent they elected an untouchable president. pretty soon the term ran out. even further down the bottom. we could end up -- we don't deal with making certain your leaders reduce and use power. you in trouble. they do stupid things because the first stupid thing they did it becomes more and more stupid. speck caught up in, can i jump in your? i want to build on that. i'd like to take this for the. of obama, would you talk about the role of black politcal satire? and this will be our last question. we will open it up to the audience.
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but the role of black politcal satire in the age of obama. >> one is point out the fact that he is the target of criticism and ridicule and all kinds of stuff that no other president has ever been target of. they come at him, the enemy, the enemy has come at him. everything they can throw at him. satire, the tea party people they're making certain the whole world understands. this is racism. these are absolute racist. [applause] >> if know what else will make it clear, we should make it clear in many different ways that we have to have some cartoons of nuremberg trials. what do we do? go after it. on the other hand, the obama administration itself, there are some criticisms. like where are the blacks in his administration? now, am i saying they got to be there because of color?
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where's that experience with unemployment? where's that experience with difficulty paying your mortgage, that blacks could bring, his cabinet doesn't have. where is a whole lot of past history on how to handle and a poverty program, community action program, got people jobs right away while they were worried about, you know, whether there will be a job, a career, give them a job. let them dig in and later on they will make their own career. that's a history of the anti-poverty program in new york city. there's a whole lot of stuff that the circle has ruled out, there's too much harvard and yale, and not enough moorhouse. [laughter] >> you know? the satire of the lady who let those people in there, you know,
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desiree rogers. she needs -- we have a lot of people like that, but you can't be a diva and be in charge. same time protect her, handle it a little harshly. there's a lot of other guys who made mistakes that night. worse than her. >> did you want to jump in on that? >> in the age of obama i think it's an more important, especially black politcal satire, try to focus on the issue, try to conduct a very critical analysis of the obama administration, how conducts its business. the types of policies that is putting forth. and too much of what i'm seeing, particularly envelope like political commentary and black politcal satire. so much of what i'm saying is
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there's too much sort of foolish bantering about the obama's personally about the obama's lifestyle, or about obama -- you know, obama being biracial. he's the president of the united states. someone made a very interesting comment yesterday when we are talking about obama and his image of cool poise. is a very cool calm demeanor but it's also a notion he's trying to put on his arab nothing can phase me. it reminds us of folks we do see, they're right across the street. it reminds us of us. but they were saying that he doesn't need to be cool. he's the president of the united states. why does he need to be cool? why does he have to let people know that he does ncaa basketball bracket? why does he let people know he listens to jay-z? like if he keeps doing that, or if we keep allowing him to do
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that, will we do that to him, it's like we're not doing him any justice and we're not doing ourselves any justice. definitely not doing the country any justice. he's the president of the united states, so we've got to be much more -- we have to -- i appreciate the visual of a president obama. don't get me wrong. i appreciate that, but now we're past the migration phase. we are past the phase of its titles in the white house. we're past that. it's time to roll your sleeves up and have to brothers in the city like new york and places like philadelphia are unemployed. in the unemployment rate is not 10%. it's actually 20, maybe perhaps in excess of 25% if you take into consideration the folks that are underemployed or whoever just given up or are involved in this underground economy that we see quite a bit of more and places like brooklyn or north philly or
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south-central. the black political satire has got to be much more serious. it's got to be -- i understand, it's like, you know, i'll in this quick. very favorite piece of writing of mine about the way the samurai. yamamoto says if you want to persuade somebody, if you want to criticize it and have to criticize him in such a way like they have a parched throat and you're offering them a glass of water. so i understand that setup is that kind of role, a glass of water. but we've got to really give very serious here about this is not about the euphoria of having a black, because he could be just a one term black president by the time it's over. and not only that, it could be, right now we've got a situation where a about a quarter of the black middle-class has been
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decimated by this recession. those are the kinds of things we need to focus on. >> these are very good points. [applause] >> in the age of obama, black political satire as we know has a very important role to play. there's room for cool pose. there's a lot of room for passion. and for taking strong stands that i just want you to know you will fight. i think will open up to questions from the audience, and i guess we'll begin here. >> thank you for plugging -- >> excuse me. as we open up for questions, please remember we are other people so we want questions. please not statements, concise questions. make concise answers if you can. >> thank you for plugging john and holding up our new publication. killen's review. that's just a plug for us. but i had another question.
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some of the sharpest satire today that i have read that had me laughing out loud is get a lead the only difference is they are satire eating mostly males, you know, the brother industry. the brother in the street as we well know has always been off limits. anybody have any take on this ask how come we don't have any ghetto lit folks here? >> i mean, he raises a very good point and i think that we shouldn't be so quick -- i know there's -- and i've been getting into some very sensitive debate and discussions about this. i know there's an ongoing discussion about ghetto lit, street lit. first is somewhat of a distinction between -- i think, between urban fiction and street trendy. i think that like my book is our conviction. i'm proud to say it's set in the
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city. but what chuck does fight club or choke because he is white, no one wants to call his stuff urban legend are going to be careful sometimes how we profiled certain labels. because we end up doing to ourselves what other people have been doing to us or so many hundreds of years. but he makes an excellent point. there is a lot of -- i don't think ghetto lit is so much secured if that's what you want to call because i think there's a lot of good, yes, it's very hard, very gritty, very real. but there's some very serious quality commentary about there, about stuff that a lot of us would like to ignore or that we would just like to act as though it doesn't exist. it's really rough out there, and that's what a lot of that street fiction or street-based fiction, if you will, is trying to say. its people screaming, they want to have a voice. they want to tell us, they want to tell society this is what's
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happening. you can't it it, and if we continue to ignore it, it can be robbed and it could actually escalate into something that very unfortunate for all of us, not just in this room but society as a large. it would be nice to actually include, to have a larger discussion and to include folks who are from a lot of people are designating that street lit chandra. i do think now, that said, i will say this. i think that there's a lot of unnecessary glorification of street life that i think is very disruptive. i think it is very irresponsible. i think some people tend to do it just for the sake of doing it, for writing that type of nonsense that there are people writing so-called street lit and they grew up in the suburbs. that doesn't make sense. and is just for the whole
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purpose of catering to folks who just don't know better. and that's another discussion. i don't want to sort of go off topic with this, but i think that -- i just want to say, i think we should appreciate, i think that it is a legitimate element or legitimate aspect of black literature. i think a lot that street fiction, it's just modern day -- >> never heard of that. >> go ahead, i'm sorry. >> i hope that answers your question. >> i don't mean to be rude. i wish we had more time. great comments. spent nothing to be sorry about. i just love what you have to say. >> i am with the black authors showcase. quick question. black empire was a great satirical novel. today, i see very little satirical material coming out
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about africa. and a lot of things that we write our stand that too. is that a topic that you find most writers are afraid to pull the covers up in a satirical format, talk about what's happening in africa right now? >> africans are writing about it. you know, what's his name? i can't pronounce it, but and what's the name of his book? the most -- the thick one. [laughter] >> there are a number of africans who are writing great and very important political satire. not a lot of african-americans because we are not that the money with what's going on there. >> let me mention at least two or three of them out there. there was when rain clouds gather was a book by bessie head, the late bessie head. in fact, she wrote quite a few
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books that begin to touch on not only satire, but insurance are dealing with the reality of the african situation, which has to be done first. we can talk about all this here kind of politcal satire out there, but when you look at the "new york post," for example, on page six, what they did in terms of dealing with sharpton and with obama, we need to have a response to that. that's where our critical response comes in in terms of politcal satire. we deal with their cartoonist. we deal with their riders potential come at us with a sense of demolishing and reducing. i mean, it's like once upon a time all we had out there was a mistake and he. and suddenly you have something that freeman and charles correll, created the symbols of the african-american community.
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suddenly a boy was seen as calhoun who was ridiculous. but we was watching his kids on television, something that i don't want to be like this guy. sadly he becomes in the back end of all the attorneys out there. you know, he was kind of a stumbling, mumbling, or shady, king fish. what he began to symbolize. but what happens is if you have it within a context of a larger, a larger perspective in terms of what's happening with african-american community, then it's okay because they had -- they had, you know, they had the super mcgee and molly. they had the goldberg's out there. but the jews and the irish had other shows on television in which they get a wider expanse, you know, not the humor but also the intelligence of that community.
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the industrial this update community. >> and some african standpoint bessie head. the whole trilogy that he wrote. and what he did, he challenges the whole question of christianity, of coming in and getting the africans a bible while they went off the land. he talks about the tradition, the whole tradition of the communities of which he come from. looking at nigeria, look at her book. again you can get some aspects not only of the reality of the african situation, but the counter position, too, in terms of the critique they bring to that particular reality. >> thanks. see if we have time for one, maybe two questions. quick questions. let's keep the answers succinct, please. >> very quick. four-part question but it's
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going to be very quick. [laughter] >> let's see how far we go. >> mr. branch are, mr. bradshaw? you seem to and i could've gotten is completely wrong, but you seem to slightly differ with your fellow panelists in that you felt that to satire is extremely difficult, that much of what goes for satire in black literature, 90% of it i think he said, is easy. could you elaborate on what you meant when you said hyper true? and would you say that something like the essman -- i'm start, the yes men. the yes men are a group of people that go around the country and pretend to be corporate leaders and they say things like we just not out of the war in vietnam. and people applaud and then they come back, comeback is it we never said that. but it goes all over the news and they at least they think that people want them to. that they want to hear. >> that's not an exact question.
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>> well, i think that i really -- i think that true satire often goes unrecognized, actually. because i think that true satire often makes people really angry, and that's -- and that's kind of the decisions that i try to make. if it's obvious that it is satire, like a, look, we're making fun of these people, that's really easy. see, i think that -- so if you're just simply mocking people and everyone is agreeing with you, then it's actually an affirmation of the status quo in a way, because you're reaffirming the belief that people are have and that's why we're all laughing and agreement. but true satire should challenge
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something within each person themselves, and implicate everyone in -- i think that everyone has a part in the status quo. and i think satire should always be out to challenge the status quo. unless the status quo was perfect and it almost never is, then they all have, don't all have a part of that. and, you know, -- >> we want to thank our panelists for this great, wide-ranging and comprehensive discussion, and hopefully it'll inspire us to go back and do some more thinking about the role of black political satire. and to utilize it more in


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